(x)clusive!: Busan One Asia Festival Opens with a Magical Flourish

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Busan has always been famous for the beautiful Haeundae, or in recent years, the Busan Station after its feature as the titular location in the critically acclaimed film, Train to Busan. Home to the annual Busan International Film Festival, Busan now also hosts the Busan One Asia Festival, which aims to be Asia’s foremost cultural festival that showcases not just the Korean Wave, but also the vibrant cultures of the city.

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The Opening Ceremony for the Busan One Asia Festival was a highly anticipated event, especially after the line-up was confirmed to consist of Apink, ASTRO, B.A.P, GOT7, NCT 127, SF9, NU’EST W, Momoland, BLACKPINK, iKON, GFRIEND, Wanna One, and the legendary group SECHSKIES.

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Since Busan has become one of the more popular destinations in Korea, getting there is actually not hard at all—lots of flights operate in and out of Gimhae International Airport daily, other options include travelling by the KTX (high-speed rail) or by intercity buses. So if you’re in Seoul, consider taking a day trip or two via the train to Busan. (Don’t worry, you can always hide in the bathroom in the event of a zombie invasion.)

The Busan One Asia Festival Opening Ceremony kicked off with Nam Goong-min as emcee, and all of the performers greeted the audience on stage together.

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The theme of the Opening Ceremony consisted of six segments: Chapter I “New Beginning”, Chapter II “Reborn”, Chapter III “Magical”, Chapter IV “Timeless”, Chapter V “Illusion”, and Chapter VI “Awesome”. Each segment begun with a VCR before the special performances.

Momoland were the first performers of the night with Freeze and Wonderful Love, while ASTRO followed up with an Intro and Baby. SF9, who had just made their comeback recently, performed a mysterious and intense Intro before showcasing their comeback song, O Sole Mio.

Chapter II began with NU’EST W with an Intro and one of their more iconic songs, Hello. It was indeed befitting of them to open the performances for the new chapter since they have definitely been reborn after the public finally got to know them through Produce 101 Season 2 after their many years of hard work. The next stage was by the rookie group that shot to popularity after the same survival programme. Wanna One appeared on stage to thunderous cheers, going right into Pick Me after an Intro.

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YG groups iKON and BLACKPINK were up next. iKON wowed the audience with Bling Bling and B-Day, while BLACKPINK put up a powerful performance of Playing with Fire and As If It’s Your Last.

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For Chapter III, GFRIEND appeared on stage in lovely white dresses for Summer Rain and Love Whisper, followed by B.A.P with an Intro and their latest song, Honeymoon. NU’EST W took to the stage again for this “Magical” chapter with their lastest title track, Where You At.

The “Timeless” Chapter featured the GENRE singer Choi Baekho with When I’m in Busan. This has to be the most perfect song in the setlist for the night, and truly timeless indeed.

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“Illusion” seemed to have a rather fantastical theme as “Magical”, but Wanna One were certainly not just illusions when they reappeared on stage for their debut song, Energetic. NCT 127 also garnered ardent cheers with their performance of Cherry Bomb.

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Chapter VI “Awesome” showcased two awesome groups, Apink and GOT7. Apink were, of course, every bit as amazing as the name of the chapter, and what made their performance of FIVE even better, was that they walked around on the extended stage to get closer to their fans. GOT7 blew the audience away with the powerful stages of Never Ever and You Are.

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As expected, the most anticipated act of the night was the SECHSKIES stage, and while we all know of how fans organise events and have synchronised fanchants for their idols, the SECHSKIES fans are truly inspiring in their official fandom raincoats. (Think Reply 1997!) A whole section of the seats in the stadium was dedicated just for them, and as fans of a pioneer idol group, they certainly were a fantastic example for younger fans.

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The SECHSKIES stage might have been the last of the night, with the iconic group performing Three Words and Something Special, but the passion and enthusiasm of their fans never faltered, even after the Opening Ceremony concert drew to a close. The fans continued to sing while most of the audience had begun to make their way out, and it was certainly moving to see such dedication.

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As Busan aims to be a primary place of interest with travellers, it’s clear that they have been putting in a lot of effort in engaging the international audience. The Busan One Asia Festival is truly a perfect reason to visit, apart from their key attractions like Haeundae, or even the Gamcheon Culture Village. If you’re a fan of Korean culture and the Korean wave, but never knew quite where to start, why not immerse yourself into the festivities and begin there?

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Never been to Busan before? Fear not, here’s a foolproof (x)clusive Guide to Busan by us for you if you’re heading there for the first time! There’s a variety of transport options available, so you can choose whichever suits your travel plans or goals the best.

We would also like to extend a huge thanks to Korea Travel Organization (KTO) Singapore as this trip was only made possible by them.

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